Young Nebraska priests’ chants become best-selling album

DENTON, Neb. (AP) — At the sound of a tap, dozens of young men clad in black cassocks and white surplices rise from kneeling positions to watch two of their brother priests begin a chant.

With a gentle wave of the Rev. Zachary Akers’ arm, the other priests pick up the song. Their voices float as one to the arched chapel ceiling, filling the small church with resonant, almost haunting echoes.

The ancient Latin wouldn’t have felt out of place in a European monastery hundreds of years ago. But this seminary is less than 20 years old and sits on a hill southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska, surrounded by fields newly planted with corn and soybeans.

The priests are members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a Catholic order formed in 1988 that focuses on traditional, pre-Vatican II liturgy and sung prayers. They come from around the country and the world, many drawn to Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in the tiny village of Denton by the holy power they feel in Gregorian chant.

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And since May 12, they’ve had the best-selling classical album on Amazon and one of the top classical albums on iTunes.

The seminary never expected to have a hit album, said the Rev. Gerard Saguto, the order’s North American superior.

“We just wanted to put something out there to get people to think more about eternity, God and our life in reference to those things, and it seems we’ve been blessed with this popularity, which none of us expected of were even trying to achieve,” he said.

“Requiem,” by The Fraternity, features many of the 80 seminarians and recently ordained priests singing a traditional Latin funeral Mass. It’s the result of four years of requests from de Montfort Music, a label that focuses on sacred music.

Monica Fitzgibbons started the label with her husband after realizing sacred chants were an uncovered territory.

Fitzgibbons said she had a pretty good idea the…

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